Thursday, 28 April 2011

Getting back on the horse

I had a pretty infuriating weekend, and on Monday night I had a bowl in the nets while there was a match on and it was the most incredible waste of time. The wind was wrong - gusting and coming from the worst possible direction, there was people mucking around in the next-door net, there were people milling around, I couldn't concentrate and I was just getting really pissed off because whatever I tried my bowling was terrible. I really was in an industrial-strength grump over the whole thing, not so much a loss of confidence as a deep frustration.

Then, happily, later that night I picked up my copy of The Art of Wrist-Spin Bowling and after an hour or two's reading I'd got my mojo back. If a man like Philpott, who was good enough to bowl leggies at Test level, is telling me I'm approaching things the right way, then that means more than any number of "well bowled"s from non-leggie club-mates. That book really is incredible, so clear, so supportive, and so enthusiastic about leg-spin and - crucially - leg-spinners. I let Dunc borrow my copy over the winter and I've only just got it back. In future I'll guard it with my life!

So last night I went for a bowl and while I had to wait a few minutes before I had a net to myself, when I did get some solo practise in it felt really good. Not by any means perfect, but I was bowling reasonably well by my standards and I was just enjoying my bowling. It really is a delicious feeling to let the ball go and know - just know - it's going to drift slightly, land on a length and turn sharply. Tonight's main theme was to try and get my shoulders rotating over each other rather than round, while aiming to bowl a little faster and flatter. On the whole I succeeded but the main thing was how good I was feeling - I bowled for over two hours and it went by in seconds.

I did try a couple of bagfuls of flippers and googlies but they were terrible, completely useless. I wasn't too bothered as there's no point getting upset about things, I just need to keep trying them every so often and in time it'll come to me. I was bowling from about 18 yards and I could bowl the flippers but didn't have enough strength in my fingers for them to be worth anything, but with the googlies I'm afraid I'm all at sea. I simply couldn't get them to go anything like straight and probably wasn't getting them to spin the right way anyway. It's a complete mystery to me as to exactly what I have to do and how it has to feel. Meanwhile I've abandoned any attempt to learn off-spin as the change in action required is just far to obvious for it to be effective.

I got my camera out and took some video of my bowling, but I was just bowling stock balls without trying too hard to do anything in particular - just spin it and land it on a length in the right place. There were plenty more distractions with the football team and then the rugby team knocking off, I thought a marching band would come past at one point, but I managed to keep my concentration for the most part and I can see myself on the video just taking a moment whenever I needed to (you won't see this as I've edited out the gaps between balls, otherwise the video would have been half an hour long...). Sadly the camera ran out of memory before I could film any top-spinners or zooters, but the impression I get from the stock balls is that I'm getting a lot more consistent and my turn is pretty good, even if a lot of that is down to how slowly I bowl. It's so easy to be hard on yourself when you're actually bowling, but when I watch it back now I'm very happy with what I see, most of it anyway. Here's the video:

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